Tag Archives: Networking

Episode 70: Space to Startup



Erin was a Dragon Mission Director for SpaceX. Then she took off around the world for a year, had a baby, and started her own business. What did she learn from her years working for Elon Musk? How did she take the leap from stable corporate employment to being self-employed and mobile? And where is Wana now, one year after Erin took the big bet on her free babysitting tech startup? Join us for an inside look at the GO from space engineer to social entrepreneur.

BIO:

Erin Beck is an aerospace engineer, scuba instructor, theatre director, and round-the-world backpacker turned mompreneur at the birth of her first child two years ago. She is the Founder and CEO of Wana, an online marketplace for family-to-family babysitting exchange. Before that, she was a SpaceX Dragon Mission Director, designing and operating the spacecraft bound for the International Space Station. She believes skills are cumulative and transferable across disciplines. She believes being a parent tops them all.


Episode 69: Raising VC for “Deep Tech” Startups in Southern California



Embark Ventures is a pre-seed and seed stage fund focused on “deep
tech” – companies with proprietary and highly defensible technology
that is a strong competitive barrier. Particularly interested in
cyber-security, robotics, advanced manufacturing, materials, and
bio/med tech but open to other opportunities that have a highly
technical/proprietary core. We invest early (generally first
institutional round) with check sizes between $250k and $1M typically.
Most of our companies are pre-product, and our goal is to get them to
first customer/revenue on our round of financing. Will discuss the
Southern California eco-system for “deep tech” startups and bridging
the gap between R&D and engineering

BIO:

Peter Lee is the Founding Managing Partner at Embark Ventures, a seed
stage venture capital fund based in Los Angeles focused on “deep tech”
companies in industries such as robotics, advanced manufacturing, and
cybersecurity. Prior to entering venture capital, he was the VP of
Product at a venture backed startup in the digital media space. Peter
was a manager with McKinsey and also worked as a product manager at
Microsoft. Peter earned his BS and MS at MIT, and an MBA from Harvard
Business School.

https://twitter.com/ptlee


Episode 68: Lies and Hardware Startups



If you have ambitions to create a company, but scared because someone said that hardware is hard, allow me to prove to you otherwise. Pretty much everyone funds hardware and it can be bootstrapped. There are a lot of ways to get off the ground and I am more than happy to debunk the myths. By managing expectations and translating hardware phases to stakeholders, everyone chills out and things get produced. Trust me. Here are some things that are awesome: Kickstarter, makerspaces, Arduino, robotics, rockets, CRISPR Cas9.

Bio:

Shaun Arora is an angel investor and entrepreneur who has grown NEO Tech as part owner. He’s on the board of several successful startups, and brings his experience to help hardware startups scale and be resource efficient at Make in LA. After graduating from Washington University in St. Louis, Shaun went to work as a cultural anthropologist for consumer packaged goods companies. In parallel he was active in starting several non-profits focused around mentoring. In 2005, he joined the electronics manufacturing business, NEO Tech, and worked to scale the business. As a result of his leadership, the business has grown 40X in that time and has over 3400 employees servicing the aerospace, industrial, and medical device industries. In 2015, Shaun official spun off Make in LA from the contract manufacturing business to improve learnings and outcomes for hardware startups. He remains a director at NEO Tech. At Make in LA, Shaun focuses on leveraging NEO Tech’s resources to support the startups, leveraging his portfolio for best practices, providing world class programming, and building strategic partnerships for the benefit of the startups.

@ShaunFromLA


Episode 67: From Intrapreneur to Entrepreneur



Jeff began his career at IBM. After 3 uneventful years, he moved to Google to help launch the Google Apps (now GSuite) business. After running the Education team for 4 years and growing the business to 70% market share, he transitioned to help launch the Chromebook product line and drove the go-to-market strategy.

But 6 years and 2 major launches were at Google was enough. Following this 6-year stint helping launch new businesses at Google, he joined other Xooglers to help launch Upstart the first lending platform to leverage artificial intelligence and machine learning to price credit and automate the borrowing process. He is now leading Powered by Upstart, Upstart’s new white label offering for banks.

The transition from employee to intrapreneur to entrepreneur may seem daunting – but it’s easier than you think. Come hear about Jeff’s story and the lessons you can take away from his experiences.

Bio:

Jeff joined Upstart after spending 6 years at Google. He launched and built the Google Apps for Education business, growing market share from zero to almost 70% in its first four years. Jeff spearheaded marketing efforts for Google Apps in Global 2000 accounts and led sales, business development, and go-to-market strategy for the launch of Chrome devices in the education and enterprise sectors. He spent several years in direct sales at IBM, always exceeding quota, and was a founding engineer and led UI developer at SSB Technologies. Jeff holds a BS in Computer Systems Engineering from Stanford University.
Twitter: @jkeltner


Episode 66: Ghosted



People often dream of moving on from their corporate job to start their own “thing”. This often includes the hope that they can do something better for the world then what they are doing for the corporation. We will cover the good, bad and ugh-ly of making the transition from the corporate world to making a difference through social entrepreneurship.

Bio:

Sean has been active entrepreneur in both his corporate and personnel life. After graduating from Rice University with a Master’s degree in Entrepreneurship he came to LA to start a unique journey. Since early in his career from working with Simpson’s and Butterfinger to being a professional entertainer he is always on a path less traveled.
He has worked in various start-ups including Great Domains (the original seller of .com as real estate), a Joint Venture around world’s largest ring tone retailer, to innovative roles in corporations such as VeriSign where he helped establish the first global enterprise messaging platform.

The sale of these companies has generated 10’s of millions of dollars. During this time Sean became a “dog” person. He says it just happens you don’t know when, but you know it happened.

Each year 31% of adoptable animals in the US are euthanized. He had volunteered with various animal welfare groups and saw an opportunity to bring his skills to bear in helping save more animals.

In 2015, he started My Buddy’s Place, a new software company with a very simple business model with an initial focus on rescue dogs, but a very big idea: help rescue become more efficient through an easy to use platform that helps all the people that care for these animals throughout their lives.
The company has continued to innovate and now offers a marketplace where pet parents can shop a curated selection of premium, healthy and natural brands, with 6% of their purchase going directly to a non-profit rescue or shelter of their choice. They can help save animals in need just by taking care of your own. With thousands of animals saved through the platform and the highest donation rate in the industry the goal of making a difference in lives of rescue animals and the people who love them is alive and well.

#ShopforGood, @mybuddysmarketplace (Instagram)


Episode 65: The Future of Augmented Reality



Until recently, augmented reality has been the stuff of science fiction. In 1956, Philip K. Dick’s “The Minority Report” predicted the coming of AR as literally being able to have information at your fingertips. Like Dick’s AR display, the 1977 hologram image of Princess Leia in Star Wars is now a reality. That said, the first appearance of AR actually goes back to 1862 and the concept of Pepper’s Ghost, an illusion effect made for amusement parks and museums. In the early 1950’s, Pepper’s Ghost was used in the early development of the teleprompter.

Since then, advances in both AR and virtual reality have progressed from military uses in the 80’s such as the virtual training cockpit to today’s consumer wearables and mobile apps. The trend of heavy investment in augmented reality by Google, Apple, and Facebook are indicative that distinct from VR, AR benefits from a pre-existing install base of smartphones and is not dependent on external display systems. According to Deloitte, AR stands to potentially be marketing’s next trillion-dollar business with annual revenues expected to be almost $700 billion by 2025.

Bio:

Ziggy Kormandel, Founder/CEO of Augmently

Sagi “Ziggy” Kormandel has been an accomplished art director, creative director, 3D consultant, and digital marketer since the “dot com boom” starting in 1995. He began his career in visual entertainment as an art director with clients including many Fortune 500 and 100 companies like Universal, Nestle, Warner Brothers, and Nike.
In 2011, Ziggy founded 3DX where as CEO, he used his 18 years of experience to assemble a dream team of 3D marketing experts and secured his first patent. He has continued to successfully serve some of the largest global brands with industry leading technology and now has multiple patents.

As VP of Business Development and Innovation for ISBX, Southern California’s leading web and mobile application development agency, Ziggy brought his experience with technology innovation to a new level. To date, ISBX has designed, developed, and launched over 250 apps on iOS, Android, Windows, and BlackBerry.
In 2014, Ziggy founded Augmently with ISBX as its development partner. The company is not only a service provider, but a creative agency that has delivered winning campaigns for many global brands. With its patented AR technology, Augmently has been recognized from Techcrunch to Apple as an innovator with the kind of patented solutions that distinguish the company in the crowded AR marketplace.
Most recently, Augmently has entered the health and wellness sector in partnership with Stayhealthy, a leader in healthcare technology since 1995. In addition to his role at Augmently, Ziggy now serves as President of Stayhealthy where he is driving a number of AR enhanced, app-based healthcare programs and solutions.

ziggy@getaugmently.com


Episode 64: Venture Capital – What they look for in funding a startup



Find out what venture capitalists look for in a startup and what makes a company fundable. One size does not fit all! Will also cover alternative funding sources and why venture capital isn’t right for many types of businesses.

Bio:

John Waller is a partner at Okapi Venture Capital. Okapi is a local, early stage, tech venture fund. Prior to joining Okapi, he co-founded such companies as Resume.com (acquired by Adecco S.A.) and 24/7 Real Media (NASDAQ: TFSM), and was CEO for X1 Technologies, Managing Director of New Ventures Group for Idealab, and Strategic Development and M&A for Mattel. He is also the founder and Managing Director of Green Thumb Ventures.


Episode 62: Workplace Happiness is Your Best Business Strategy



According to Gallup, American employers lose $450-550 billion a year by failing to create positive corporate cultures that foster accomplishment, autonomy and appreciation in the workplace.

Employee Unhappiness leads to:
• Higher turnover
• Excessive absenteeism
• Poor customer service
• Theft
• Workplace bullying and violence
• Increased workers compensation claims
• More on-the-job injuries

…and a myriad of outcomes that have no line item in the budget, but still reduce productivity throughout the workplace. Engagement, job satisfaction and worker happiness matter to the bottom line.

This talk will give employees and managers the skills to create a positive work environment through simple adjustments and practices anyone can do, no matter the workplace. Whether in an office, a hospital, a restaurant, classroom or construction site, these techniques work!

In the U.S., the average loss due to unhappiness and disengagement is $3,500 per employee per year. When it comes to happiness, is your workplace above or below average? Can you afford to let it stay that way? Make happiness a priority in your workplace today, and reap the rewards tomorrow.

Bio:

Valerie Alexander is a renowned expert on happiness and inclusion. She is the founder and CEO of Goalkeeper, a tech company that builds micro-social platforms to amplify happiness, whose first product is Super Happy Couples. Valerie is the author of the Amazon #1 seller, Happiness as a Second Language and a nationally recognized speaker on the topics of personal happiness, happiness in the workplace, and the advancement of women. Prior to her current work, Valerie was a securities lawyer, an investment banker, a V.P. of Business Development for two companies, and a screenwriter and film director. She can be found at SpeakHappiness.com and invites everyone to watch her TED talk, Why We Must Train Our Brains to Expect the Unexpected.

https://twitter.com/speakhappiness, #SpeakHappiness


Episode 61: The challenges of scaling a technology group



What are the challenges of scaling your technology company or your technology group in a technology driven company? Lessons learned from the front line. Beyond slogans, fads and beautiful articles written by smart people from top consulting companies.

In this brief presentation, Israel Ben-Ishai will share with you what he learned from many years of experience scaling technology groups as a leader and from the last five years as a consultant, coach, and mentor.

Some of the questions Israel will attempt to answer are:
– How does one take the initial innovation and market success to the next phase of operational success?
– How do you scale your organization, technology, processes, and people?
– How do the great agile principles, and mindset scale when you grow at today’s high speed and confront some of the business realities?

Bio:

Israel is a Mentor, Coach, and advisor to leaders in technology and technology-driven companies and their investors.

After a long career as an engineer, engineering manager, and technology executive Israel decided to dedicate his energy and knowledge to mentoring new generations of technology leaders and consulting with growth companies and their investors.

Israel’s has many years of successful experience in people development and scaling organizations in the software industry.
In addition to his vast engineering experience, he embarked on a coach training program with the Coaching Training Institute (CTI).
Israel is now a mentor and a coach to leaders in small and large companies and advises CEO’s CTO’s and CPO’s on scaling their organization and developing their people to adjust and be successful as the company grows.

In his advisory capacity, he undertakes interim part-time roles as CTO/ VP of Engineering and helps organizations set up and scale their organization and hire key leaders. Israel holds a Dottore degree in Electronics Engineering from the Politecnico di Milano, Milan, Italy and completed extensive Executive Management training at Queens University in Kingston, Ontario. He is also a Certified Professional Engineer in Ontario, Canada.


Social Entrepreneurism – Give2Grow



Charles Antis, Founder and CEO of Antis Roofing, is fueled by a desire to be not just an expert in his field of roofing and waterproofing, but to be a leader in his community that models how to use success, resources, time and influence to change the world – in his case, one roof at a time. Charles will share his story from the beginning, when every piece of business was necessary to pay the bills and support his own young family. He met a mother and her seven children, living in a mildew and mold infested home, desperate for a roof repair with no ability to pay. That was the start of a life-long practice – to give back first.

How can leaders and their organizations assess their ability to give back to their communities? To build a culture that cares within their own organization?

What is the right balance between running the business, integrating cause marketing, and maintaining a strong, respected brand?
How can contributions powerfully impact the community in which we do business?

Are leaders being called to integrate corporate social responsibility into their organizations?

What are the opportunities and risks with CSR?

Bio:

Charles Antis, Founder and CEO of Antis Roofing & Waterproofing, is a highly-respected and widely known roofing expert, entrepreneur and humanitarian. He began his career as a roofing professional in 1984 and has become an emerging thought leader in Southern California who inspires others with his innovative “Give to Grow” approach to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). As the central tenet to Charles’s business philosophy, the “Give to Grow” philosophy ensures that the company, its employees and the entire community thrives together.

As a community-oriented business leader and roofing industry expert, Charles serves on the Board of the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA). He is also a member of The Roofing Alliance for Progress and serves within the Roofing Technology Think Tank (RT3). Additionally, he serves on the Board of Directors for Orange County Habitat for Humanity (Habitat OC), through which Antis Roofing & Waterproofing has donated every roof installation of every home built by Habitat OC since 2009. Charles also serves the following organizations, where his passion and experience inspire others into “doing well by doing good.”
• Ronald McDonald House Orange County (Board of Directors)
• California State University Fullerton Center for Leadership (Board of Directors)
• Integrity Wealth Management (External Advisory Committee)
• Association for Corporate Growth (Corporate Leaders Experience Advisory Group)
• OneOC (External Advisory Board)

Charles has been honored with prestigious awards over the years and was recently presented with the 2018 Irvine Chamber Business of the Year award. In 2017 he received the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation Corporate Citizen Award, Small and Mid-Size Business; the National Philanthropy Day Honoree, Outstanding Corporation or Business, Mid-Size; the Civic 50 Orange County Honoree; CACM Vision Award for Corporate Social Responsility; and received the top honor with the CNA Insurance/National Roofing Contractors Association (CAN/NRCA) Community Involvement Award.

As a proponent of multi-tenant housing ownership education, Charles served for more than 20 years on the Education Committee of the Community Associations Institute (CAI), teaching maintenance responsibilities to board members and community managers. He is a former 20-year member of Vistage 390. He attended Brigham Young University and lives with his wife and children in Irvine, California.